Swimmers throughout Serbia competed for the “Honorable Cross” on Sunday, marking the Feast of the Epiphany, one of the 15 most important celebrations of the Serb Orthodox religion.
A 15-year-old young man from Belgrade’s Zvezdara suburb won the 23. ceremonial swimming race organised at the Zemun Kej neighbourhood in Belgrade.
Four women were among the 242 swimmers who braved the ice-cold water on Sunday.
“For Serbia, Russia, Republika Srpska and the Patriarch” and “We will not give up on our sanctities,” the swimmers yelled before they jumped into the water, referring to a controversial law Montenegro passed recently which Serbs living there argue would enable the state to seize Serbian Orthodox Church property.
Before the competition began, Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej held a sermon in the St. Nicholas Church in Belgrade and blessed the swimmers.
Organisers of the event honoured the state broadcaster for covering the event, as well as TV Pink and Studio B - which part of the crowd objected to.
A competition also took place at Ada Ciganlija in Belgrade, as well as near the ‘Milan Gale Muskatirovic’ sports centre.
Competitions took place across other Serbian towns as well.